Goodbye Mother

So…I did something dumb. I am just a human. Trying the best I can, you know. I woke up and it was dark. It was so insanely dark. I was searching for reasons, searching in the dark. Like a small child, curled up and scared, I only thought of one thing. I thought of my mother. When I called she said she could not speak, she was in a meeting, but would called back. Then she called to ask why I was upset and I said it was not something that I could put into a sentence so she would call after her meeting. We spoke and I wanted to tell her about me. About how I was in a lot of pain and no longer wanted to live.

She let me know that she was pleased that I was going to do a masters as my sister had informed her yesterday. I explained that I had failed a component of my course and I am in no state to do my exam tomorrow so I will be graduating later. This set her off. She asked why it was the first she was hearing of it and I explained that an F is not something you openly come to a parent with for fear of disappointment. However she decided that I had said that it was all her fault, that I was coming to a conclusion that my mental state right now is because of an F grade that I could not tell her about. I did not tell anyone, because I thought I had it handled. I retook and retook, thinking that all would be alright in the end, if I could just improve the grade. It did not improve now and I am at the end. Running out of time. So I tried to explain to you calmly that I would not graduate until September.

You are irritated. You begin to say how I am weak. I crumble too easily. I want to tell you that I am hurting. So so much and not because of an F, but because I have been through hell and survived it. I was never going to escape without getting burnt. So when you tell me that I crumble too easily and you have experienced more trauma than I will know in my life…explain what you mean. You have only expressed your struggle in moving country and being a single parent. I understand that this world has hurt you. I understand that you have your own problems. Domestic violence is unfair. So is rape. So is child abuse. So is bullying and manipulation. Stop victim blaming. These things crush your soul more than any man could ever break my heart.

So now that I have been crushed to the point where nothing is left and yet somehow I am still fighting, you tell me I crumble too easily. She would not listen. She would not stop the sound of her own voice to take in what I was saying. She never has. And I asked until the point where I was begging. Please listen to me. Stop talking. Talking means that you are not listening. To her, these words are disrespectful. So she said same old with you. Always the same. Always attention seeking. Well you know what, grow up. You are 21 now. You are supposed to be an adult. So get over it. I did not realise adults could not suffer…tell me the secret to suddenly surviving and getting over it. I still cannot let people near me. I am still suffering. The years go by and I am struggling to figure out what is going on with me.

Really, you are the one who is attention seeking, again. Then you wonder why I do not come to you. When I need help, I have to reassure you. You tell me you do not care what I do with my life, figure it out on my own, you are done. You tell me that I do not value you as a mother. If we go back to why I called…I hit rock bottom. I was in crisis and I needed some level of appreciation from you. I needed to feel like I was not a burden, a disappointment or someone who does not deserve to exist. You did not help though. Once again, I felt worthless and here I was giving you value. You think that is what children are for but you are so wrong. You could not even reassure me about a bad grade, let alone about ending my life.

Rupi was right. We really do need to stop looking for healing at the feet of those who broke us. So I am done. Completely done. I tried and now I am done trying. Other people hear me when you will not, so I will not look to you. You gave me every reason to cut you out. You gave me exactly what I was looking for. What I expected. You may be my mother and you will never know how much I love you or how grateful I really am, because you simply do not listen. I do not measure up on your materialistic scale. This time, you were right. We should not talk. So goodbye mother, I am done with you.

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A Letter I Wish I Could Send

I know that you have not been taking me seriously, so I have decided to spell it out for you. On April 30th 2017, I was in the hospital having overdosed on painkillers. I took them at around 1pm. I had not been drinking. It was logic that led me to this point. I have been feeling low for quite some time now and despite me constant cries for help, I am usually unanswered. I fight on my own. On this particular day, I did try. I told myself outside on a walk. I like to be outside and around nature to feel better. I sat in a tree and I cried and cried. I remembered everything. I remembered all the pain and the hurt. I remember every unbearable pain I have had to experience. You say I should be grateful that I am still here alive. I am grateful for a life. You have to understand though that I have come to a conclusion that I have no future. I have a long, lonely and painful existence ahead of me. I merely exist. I cannot allow people near me or into my space. I long for people and things that are just too far out of reach, because of the person that I have become. I hate myself for being this person. So after the tears would not stop, I went home and I sat in the shower. The pounding in my head was becoming unbearable. The water could not wash away the tears and the pain as it often is able to. So I got out the shower and took the pills. It was meant to be just two, the recommended amount and I would sleep of the headache and drink loads of water. However, an uncontrollable force in me took over and I swallowed the whole strip one after the other. I did not want to hurt myself and this seemed so easy and pain-free. I had not eaten and the first thing I did was go online. I wanted to know what would happen. If I would suffer greatly or die. I knew that I had essentially poisoned myself. The internet was absolutely useless in telling me what would happen so I called a helpline just to enquire about what I could expect to happen before I died. I figured with an overdose, I would have time to write letters and make peace with the goodbye. Instead the woman on the phone got an ambulance to come as close to me as possible and it arrived a few hours later. I had been sleeping and was feeling slightly dizzy and disoriented. They checked my liver and kidneys and gave me an antidote in the hospital for the toxins that were building up in an attempt to break down the pills. They told me they were trying to prevent liver failure. I was completely out of it in the hospital and after a lot of crying and protesting because I hate people touching me, I fell asleep. I screamed at the man who woke me in the night to take my blood pressure. As he was doing it, I saw two women at the end of my bed – the psychiatry team. We went to a room to talk for a while about the goings-on in my head and they let me know that I have a complex array of mental illnesses. I have been this way for quite some time now. The longer it goes on, the more I pretend, the worse it gets. I am breaking down. So whilst you may not want to admit that you have a daughter with a problem, I am here to tell you that you do. I am so ridiculously complicated that they are struggling to determine what is wrong. They have gone from thinking it is post-traumatic stress disorder to depression to psychosis to anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder to autism spectrum disorder to borderline personality disorder to dissociation to bipolar and they still have no idea what it is. This essentially means that I have no treatment, whilst I receive no support from the people who I thought cared. It is not a joke. It is not something that is all in my head. Logically, I know that I have a great life. I know that I have something to hold onto and achieve if I could only get better. Rational thinking escapes me in these moments. It is not an act of imagination. It is real. It is terrifying. It is the darkness seeping in. Taking over. I lose all control. I have ben going to counselling for a very long time and I continue to relapse back to the darkness. This was not my first attempt at suicide. However, it was the one that got me the attention I needed from services. The attention that I have needed from the people around has not come. I have slipped away each time and continued pretending that I can live like this. The truth is, I cannot survive it not like this. If you cannot understand that I am suffered from a fatal illness, something that is going to kill me, because I will become so exhausted that I stop fighting, that is shocking to me. This is a leading killer in this world. I know that I am so damn strong because as bad as it gets inside, I am still here. I am desperate. I want all the help I can get and that in itself is remarkable. I refuse to suffer in silence anymore. I am here trying not to cause pain to others and that is the only reason I have to fight. Luckily, I have good people in my life so that is a pretty amazing reason. If medication is the answer, I will try it. If it is cognitive behavioural therapy, I will try it. Nothing is working anymore. I have stopped looking after myself and eating well and exercising. I try really hard because I know these things allow me to feel better, but I have no energy and no will anymore. So I need help, desperately. If you cannot understand that then I am shocked. I am ashamed to be your daughter, because althoguh you may be ashamed of me for being this way, your crime is far worse. It is not all in my head. It is not my fault. It is not a phase. I am not weird. I do need help. For now, that is all.

Words

I find myself wondering why parents are necessary. Who thought it would be a good idea to put an individual’s life into the hand of another? Who gave them the right to choose what we would wear, what we would eat and how we would think? I want to break out, right now. I want to explain that I will never agree with your opinions and I will always voice my own. I want you to know that I am not wasting a life. I am fighting every second of every day to maintain a life. I am fighting to survive. It is not because I think that I am so hard done by. I know that there is a lot worse – do not get me wrong.

I did not choose to switch myself off. So mother, if you think that I stopped feeling out of choice you are wrong. I want to be happy, hell I even miss the sadness sometimes. Feeling nothing is a reaction. It is the only way to cope. When you are sat listening to the words that have the power to destroy you and trust me they can and will, then you block it out. It is the only way you know how. So I do not talk to you about my emptiness. I know you will not understand. You are an over energetic, always reacting person. I know that this is foreign to you. You say I cannot be sad because I am privileged, but hold on, is sadness not a part of being human. Really you should say I cannot be sad because I am not human then. You sort of said that already though. You called me special (not in a good way), strange and weird. You told me I was far from normal, even though, by the way, there is no such thing. You told me how outrageous you think what I am going through is.

How do you think that makes me feel? Do you really think those words are going to pick me up and make me live with a smile on my face for the rest of my days? They stabbed me in the chest. They are telling me that I am not entitled to live a human life. They are telling me I cannot suffer, so I guess I cannot feel joy either, oh but wait, I actually cannot. And why? Well, that is how you taught me. You see I have coping mechanisms in place and I have survival. I will get through it slowly. Hell, it is not a waste of a life. It is the valuing of a life. I am not giving up. I am fighting this fight and do not even try to tell me I am not.

Do not tell me that it is a waste to throw away opportunities, especially when they are opportunities I may not even have. Do not tell me that I cannot take a break from studying. Stop talking to me about privilege and the African way. School, university – they are not a life lesson. I need to take a break from it all, because honestly, I do not know what I have learnt. I have learnt that there is no God, there is no one coming to save me. I have learnt that life is hard, love is hard, happiness is hard, but all these things are attainable. I did not learn these things in a classroom. Just because I am some sort of intelligent being, does not mean I belong trapped in a classroom.

It took me way too long to learn human experiences. I did not know feelings or how to love. I barely knew anything until I left the enclosed world of education. So I am done with it. You may see it as a waste but I know my passion. Yes, I once loved learning. Yes, I still love learning. Learning for me lies out there in the world. In choosing the books that you get to read and what you can write about. It lies in the people you meet and places I know that I have to see. I do not want this privileged life of learning. I want an old-fashioned, out with nature, connecting with people, face to face kind of learning. If that is not inspiration, then I do not know what is.

I want nothing to do with anyone that is going to hold me back. I want peace. So you can say whatever you would like, as you did today. I will sit, I will hear the words, but I will not listen. There is more out there and I know it. So do not tell me I am giving up. Do not tell me anything, because you do not know about me. You do not ask about me, so of course, you will never understand. I did not expect you too. That is why I ask you for nothing. So when you say that you are done and cannot give me anything. That is absolutely fine. It is what I expected. I am numb to the words. Just as you taught me to be. It is how I survive for now and I will survive, believe me.

I am not on a quest for feeling. I have learnt how to feel and it is so beautiful. I am on a path of surviving this. The only way I know how. So I have shut down. Shut off. Everything. If you do not get that, you need to look at yourself and reflect, because that is where it started. So thank you for your words, without them, I would never have learnt so many valuable lessons. Now, they are empty. Meaningless. Nothing.

Adoption

When I think about my future and family, I think about adoption. It is something I have always wanted to do. I never wanted my own children. I was too scared of my issues and the example my mother had given. Maybe this is changing now as I heal. I like to think I will one day have both. Adoption has always been extremely important to me.

People often talk about what it must and would be like to not look like your parents. I would not know. I am the spitting image of my mother. I think it is one of the worst things. I feel unable to escape her and I think when she looks at me as the more youthful version of her, she is bitter. I always used to sit and wish I had been adopted. My mother was never intended for parenthood. She should have just given us up. I always thought about the family I could have had. I was privileged and I knew that in the social care system, I may have lost the  wealth and status. However, I thought that if I had the love and care, that it would not really matter.

I am glad I was never adopted or taken into the care system. It took a long time and a lot of pain to come to this realisation. If I had gone, my mother may have messed us up a lot less, but I would not have my stepdad. He is pretty incredible. You have to be to deal with her every day. The good thing is, he has no children of his own. He has always had a yearning. He was intended to be a father. So the world, in the way it does, threw us together. The parentless child and the childless parent.

This makes me sure that I will adopt and that adoption will work for me. I have seen the way that humans work and connect. I have seen that love is found in the strangest of places. This is a man, nothing like me in appearance, but who understands my mind. He knows what I go through and he handles it incredibly. He is loving, kind, gentle and only stern when he needs to be. I learnt that trust is a two-sided thing. I let him in and it hurts so much when he lets me down and even more when I am letting him down.

So many people do an excellent job at raising their children and explaining to them why they are different and why other children may ask questions. Children are just children after all. It is not wrong or harmful to be different. So, I am excited to see what will unfold and what life will give me. Ultimately, I cannot wait until I get to love and care for another.

Dear Mum,

You say that you are waiting for an apology from two months ago now. Do you not know that I am still waiting for an apology from years ago. I had to forgive without the sorry. Why are you so self-centred that you need it to be about you, always? I have accepted this. I know you well now. You were the one who hurt me. You made me cry. Why should I apologise for that? I cannot do it. I will not apologise for my existence, my emotions, the way you made me. Now, I am my own person. I am going to stand strong in my actions. I was hurting and it was because of you. That is not fair. Get some perspective. Put yourself in my shoes and stop being so critical. I am human. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I will never be good enough for you and that is not fair. Sometimes, I react to you and maybe that is wrong or seems unfair to you. However, you should see that it is natural to have reactions and emotions. Stop pushing them out of me. I have to deal with yours every day. Just try to learn something from people’s responses. Please.

Parent

I often wonder what type of parent I would be. Damaged children, you see, are either severely disadvantaged or majorly advantaged. I hope to be the latter. However, I think that this requires reflection.

My mother does not know me. Not even a little bit. She could not tell you my passions or how I spend my time. She could not tell you what or who I love. This is not because I do not talk about it. Trust me, my passions they consume me and when I speak, I find I way to force what I want to into conversation. When I love something, it is not gentle. It radiates out of me and my eyes light up. She just does not listen or does not ask. She wants to hear only what suits her. If she cannot relate, she will not pay attention. Believe me, it hurts.

I want a child, I really do. I thought for a long time that I could not carry the burden of messing up another’s person life in the way my mother has. I did not think I had it in me to be a mother. I always considered myself too damaged to be responsible for someone else.

Actually, I think it is important that I am a parent. I want someone who is not just a soulmate to love. I want to see what good I can do. I want to tell my own how much they are loved every day. I want to give a child opportunities, maybe my own, maybe adopted. It does not bother me, so long as they are raised in a home of love. I want that child to grow up with choices and possibilities. I will not force them into anything that makes them sad and I will push them to pursue what they enjoy. I will guide them until they find what it is and let go when the time is right. I will not be resentful if it is not what I love and I will not say I told you so when it does not work out. I will leave them to explore and watch silently, ready with comforting arms on the difficult days, of which there will be many.

Most importantly, I will teach them what love is. I will never let that child go a day without it and they will not go into this world unable to recognise it. You will not mistake false kindness or trickery for love as I did. I know now that it was not my fault, but my parent’s. I cannot repeat that sin. You will always be important, you will always be heard and if anyone ever tells you otherwise, I will always be there. From the moment you enter my life, it will no longer be about me. It will be us and you will be in my world. I will never overlook you or regret you, no matter how you came about.

I am proud of my path. It has not been easy, but it made me. I do not think it always has to be that way. I will teach you everything I have learnt. I will not use excuses or disguises. When it is appropriate, I will be completely honest with you and I will ask you to be honest with me. I will explain to you that if I cry or yell, it is my flaw, not yours. That is what happens when you are so connected to a person; you hurt when they hurt. I may be disappointed, but I will never be judgemental. There is enough judgement in this world and the last person it should come from is a parent.

I will ensure that we live every moment. That we create memories together. I will follow you in your dreams and every picture, scrapbook or embarrassing thing I do, it may seem as though it is for me, but in many years you will realise that I wanted to show you love. I wanted you to never forget it and I wanted you to always be proud of yourself, because I will be forever proud of you.

One day, I will undo all the wrong that has done to me. I have repaired the hurt. All that is left now is the love I have to give.

 

Mother

I want to start by saying that my mother is a remarkable woman. I do admire her so much and after reading this, you may wonder why.

My mother was born and raised in Zimbabwe. This is now a poverty stricken nation, but it was not always that way. She grew up in a huge house with servants. As the youngest of six siblings, she was extremely spoilt. My grandfather was absent and abusive towards his wife and sons. He often cheated and who knows how many relatives I really have out there. However, my mother was fortunate. The last child in a big family usually is. Discipline is important in an African family and this is often done by beating the bad out of you. My mother never had a hand laid on her. She was let off so lightly and this left so much jealously amongst her siblings.

She had a private education, the only one out of six to be so lucky. She was educated by German nuns in a very strict convent school. Despite her intelligence and the importance my mother places on education, she was a rebel. Her grades were poor, even though she is incredibly smart and she got into mischief, through talking too much. Something that I would now describe both a flaw, as well as a strength. As a result of little supervision and a rebellious nature, she fell pregnant at the age of eighteen.

In an African, Christian home, this was not an easy thing, especially as the father was a man with few cares and had no interest in raising a child. This meant that my mother would be raising a child on her own. Having thought about the parent she is now, I realise that at the time she probably lacked the responsibility and capability to raise a child. She dropped out of school, with only poor O-Level grades and had the child in her mother’s home. She had begun working for Air Zimbabwe and saw the United Kingdom as a dream destination. This worked out well as her father was English, so she could easily move.

She would fly back and forth often, leaving her child in the care of her mother for long periods of time. Eventually, she managed to make plans to set up her life in England and wished to bring her child before she was four, in order to have an education in a more developed country. This was not easy: a single parent living in a new country, trying to climb on a career ladder. My sister ended up spoilt at times, as an almost overcompensation. However, my mother remembered things that she had seen and picked up from childhood. So she too attempted to put discipline into her children through physical abuse.

In a Western society, this proved difficult. There were things that stood out to a child as abnormal. You see families with two parents, big houses and pets. You do not see dysfunction or violence, which is strange because it is more common than I ever knew. The media continuously feeds us a perfect picture.

My mother did an excellent job at raising her children as a single parent, that is unquestionable. She placed good values and the importance of education into me and my sister. We had a large age gap, so my mother could always provide for us financially and I would consider myself extremely privileged, but never spoilt.

It is evident though that my mother has some serious problems with herself. She is a woman who has always needed a man to define her worth. She cannot be alone and for her, it does not matter how awful a person is as long as they can tell her how great she is. She went from one man straight to another and my alcoholic father was one of them. I was born into an abusive home, my mother had suffered from domestic violence so she hit her children. This was hard, because my father never touched me or did anything but love me, but I cannot remember it. I has all been overshadowed by my mother’s words and actions.

My mother’s attention seeking nature is an important part of the emotional abuse. She likes to be mean. She says awful things to everyone around her. As long as it makes her feel better that is the only part that matters. I have no idea how she ever gets anyone to love her. I struggle to get anything good out of being nice. This is another bad parenting lesson. Negativity and abuse do not work on people.

I will never forget all the words she said. All the times that I was told I was disrespectful, worthless, rude, mean, a horrible person or whatever it was. All the times that she brought out the belt for me, all the screams and tears. All the times I tried to say that I was sorry and that I loved her and all it was rewarded with were abuse. I was blamed for everything, every man that walked out on her, every time I was not the best, because since when is anyone ever the best? I remember when I had escaped and was on my own. The first time I felt disappointed in myself, like I had done wrong or hurt others…I went and got a belt and I hit myself until I felt pain and then I knew not to hurt others again in the same way my mother had taught me.

A child of abuse. You miss the pain and the hurt, you crave it. You need to hurt yourself. You cannot do anything right. You cannot accept any positive words. You cannot be proud of yourself and you struggle to ever even feel anything good. That takes a long time to undo. That is a lot of damage.

Nonetheless, I would not be here without any of it. All of it. It made me. I am strong because of it. I fight back because of it. I am empowered because of it. That is the sadness and the irony really. That you could ever feel grateful to an abuser. When that abuser is your own flesh and blood and you have to deal with the hurt every single day, sometimes it is all that you have. It is your own personal version of the ‘I love you’ that other children received. How wrong is that?